Tuesday, October 7, 2014

5 Tips to Survive the Job Hunt

You need a new job.  Your current job is going nowhere, is about to end, or has already ended.  These situations have different degrees of panic-inducing immediacy, but each points to one course of action: the dreaded job hunt.

Relax! I've got you covered.

Everyone knows looking for work sucks.  It can be isolating, frustrating, depressing, and it tests your sense of self-worth.  So to help you survive it, here's a list of five invaluable things I didn't know I needed until I jumped into the fray myself.  And let me tell you, these things are getting me through it on the daily.

1. A Workout Plan.

Source: Redditor kirbyfood
This isn't about losing weight, or looking good in your interview outfit (more on that later).  Looking for a job is a waiting game.  You send out your cover letter and resume, and you wait.  It's hard to feel like you're making headway, and nearly impossible to see any progress.  What you need is tangible proof that you're doing something worthwhile, and that you're in the driver's seat of your own life.  For that, there's nothing better than exercise.  

Yoga, running, zumba, power walking, cartwheels through a field of flowers, whatever--working out gives structure to your day, and the much-needed ability to immediately feel, and eventually see, that you are in fact making progress and taking proactive steps towards change.  Plus, the endorphin rush is super, extremely helpful in keeping you out of the dark pit of existential despair you feel when you realize you're just a girl, standing in front of an HR office, asking it to love you.

2. Relentlessly Upbeat Music

Source: Pinterest user Gladys Neufeld
This goes hand in hand with working out.  Some days, you're going to wake up thinking, "Yeah! Let's DO this! I'm worthwhile, I've got boatfuls of talent, and any company would be lucky to have me!"  But I can guarantee you, that won't be every day.  When enthusiasm and positivity prove hard to conjure on your own, there's nothing like Queen Bey's "Love On Top" to get you there.  Seriously, this sounds frothy, but feeling good about yourself is absolutely key to making others feel good about you. So turn the beat up, "Shake It Off," and get to work.

3. A Wardrobe Plan

Source: goodmemory.tumblr.com
Pajamas are comfortable.  It's their job.  But your job is to look for a job, and you can't take it seriously if you're wearing loungewear.  It feels good at first, but eventually, part of your desire for a job will be to just have a reason to put on pants.  So give yourself that reason.  As a vintage gal, maybe you feel like your best, most put-together and employable self with your hair set and heels on. If so, do that.  Personally, that makes me feel like I've been stood up for the prom.  If you're like me, find a happy medium.  Just get out of your PJs, because if you go from sun up to sun down without a wardrobe change, you'll feel like nothing else is changing, either.

4. An Outfit That Looks Good On Camera

Source: Pinterest user Mariana E. Paula Moreno
These days, video interviews are common.  Part of me is happy about this--phone interviews suck for everyone, all the time--but on-camera interviews come with their own challenges.  Lighting and camera placement can make you look like Sophia Loren or a gremlin, so set yourself up for success by making sure you know where you could Skype like the knockout you are.  Also key? A tried-and-true outfit that flatters you in the harsh blue light of a computer.  Rule of thumb is to stay away from white and busy patterns, but test it out to see if you're the exception.  

Now, something you may want to think about as a vintage-wearing lady is how vintage to go.  You want to be memorable, but I've always had the sneaking suspicion that full-on vintage apparel, without the context of my hard work and skill set, can cause people to take me less seriously.  For this reason, I take it easy in the interview, and once I'm at the office and knocking socks off, I gradually transition into what I love wearing.  Should you have to do this?  Well, no-- people should judge you by your credentials, your talents, skills, etc.  But unfortunately, the real world isn't perfect, and depending on how badly you need a job, this may not be a hill worth dying on.  

5. Box Wine

Source: vintageimages.org
I'm serious here.  Looking for a job is full-time work.  It's hard, and it's frustrating, and at the end of the day, you deserve a break.  My reward of choice is box wine, because a) it's inexpensive enough that I can buy it without feeling guilty (it's the equivalent of four bottles of wine, and at $20 a pop, that math looks mighty good to me), and b) there's no empty bottle shame.  You know what I'm talking about.

Not into wine?  Rent a movie from RedBox or your local library, read a book you're slightly ashamed about (YA novels are wildly popular for a reason, guys), have a piece of candy-- just make sure that once in a while, you congratulate yourself for sticking it out.

The job hunt sucks.  It just does-- it sucks.  But you know what?  You're awesome, because you're doing it. If you can keep on truckin', it's going to pay off-- just stay in it, stay positive, and maybe give these tips a try.

Do you have any go-to tricks for surviving the job hunt? Share 'em in the comments below!

Note: I don't own these images; if you own them and would like me to remove them, just leave a comment!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Sisterhood of the Traveling Vintage Dress

A few months ago, Joanna at Dividing Vintage Moments proposed a really fun, wonderful idea: what if a bunch of bloggers tried out and styled the same dress? A Sisterhood of the Traveling Vintage Dress, if you will.  I immediately signed on for the adventure, and was very happy to be second up, after Kristen of Verity Vintage.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Oh, Those Summer Nights!

Summer's nearly over (boo!), and though I'm not ready to give the season up yet, I will admit I'm ready to slow things down and refocus.  As you might've seen from my fewer-and-farther-between posts, the last couple months have been bananas.  Thankfully, the last couple weeks, Kate and I were able to get away and spend some time at the beach.  It's been relaxing, and has given us time to breathe and regroup.  For me, it's finally time for me to move in a new, non-theatrical direction-- I've been hanging on too long, as my idol Duffy croons, and moving into autumn, I'm actually getting excited about trying to find something new.  But before we slide on out of summer, I wanted to share a shoot I did a while back: Grease!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Decades: Finds from the Mid- to Late 1940s

The mid- to late-1940s saw the end of World War II and the beginning of a new world.  For the United States, at least, the late 1940s created a boom in prosperity and, in the fashion world, a sigh of relief as it wriggled its way out of wartime austerity measures.  Skirts got longer, lines got softer, and Dior used fabric as though it was water.  As part of the "New Look," he transformed the shirtdress from wartime utilitarianism to relaxed domesticity, and the trend took hold and didn't let go throughout the 1950s.  The dresses I found for this foray into the mid- to late-'40s (again, as best I can tell!) span the war through the post-war transformation.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Decades: Finds from the Pre-War 1940s

Everyone loves the 1940s, but not everyone agrees on which half. There's the 1940s before World War II, and there's the 1940s after, and as the astounding trauma of the wars changed the world, fashion changed along with it.

Pre-WWII fashion made its way out of the figure-hugging 1930s with stronger shoulders and slim A-line skirts. The war required even stronger shoulders to bear its weight, so utilitarian suits with shorter, fabric-preserving skirts became de rigeur.  But once the war was over, and austerity measures a thing of the past, Christian Dior reinvigorated fashion with his ├╝ber-feminine, fabric-rich New Look of 1947.

The pieces I got to pull for this post span the huge spectrum of the 1940s, one of the most varied decades in fashion history.  Given my love for the 1930s, I really do prefer the early 1940s, but I'm happy to say I found some great dresses from the second half of the decade I'll be showing you next week.  So, how about we jump into the first half of the fab Forties?

Click "read more" to jump on in!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Decades: Finds from the 1930s

Hey there!  I'm just about bursting with excitement to show you the beautiful 1930s dresses I've gathered together for this post.  This decade is one of my absolute favorites in fashion: long, slim lines combined with dramatic details?  Yes, please.  Beginning with longer, more feminine silhouettes after the androgynous 1920s, the 1930s remains, in my opinion, one of the most flattering and elegant periods in fashion history.  It introduced simple, smart outfits to reflect the somber tone of the Great Depression, and yet encompasses the glamour of the Golden Age of Hollywood, Vionnet's groundbreaking use of the bias cut, and runs the design gamut from easy-to-wear dresses to outlandish gowns.

So without further ado, the seven (count 'em, seven!) flowing, beaded, print-ed, and/or clinging pieces I've chosen to reflect the variety of the 1930s.

(Follow the "read more" break below!)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Decades: Finds from the 1920s

After my last round of wardrobe finds from the 1910s-1920s, I'd fully intended to move on to the 1930s-- and then I found these ladies.  I hope you don't mind the extended stay in the Roaring Twenties, but these dresses were just too good to pass up!  Not to worry-- I've already photographed some great '30s pieces for an upcoming post.  

It's funny, I'd thought I'd have a little more time to photograph and model the things I've been coming across this summer, but as they're wont to do, things've turned out a little unexpectedly.  From last-minute design changes to surprises in scheduling, I've been working pretty much non-stop in the wardrobe department of the theater, and a little less in the costume shop.  That just means I've been working on running shows and costume upkeep rather than construction.  Basically, I'm now pretty boss with a steamer and adept at quick changes, but a little fuzzier on the nitty-gritty of costume work.  Which isn't to say I'm not enjoying my time in summer stock-- it's just a way of explaining why I haven't been able to find the time to keep the kind of blogging schedule I'd prefer (and why all my photos lately are set in a dressing room!). 

So, to make it up to you, here are five amazing dresses from the costume shop, coming straight to you from the Jazz Age!

(Note: No dresses were harmed in the taking of these photos.)

Check 'em out by clicking "read more" below!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Decades: Finds from the 1910s-1920s

Yikes, but I am tired.  Working wardrobe in summer stock is no joke-- it's extremely long hours, six days a week, and I'm lucky if I can blindly grab something other than running crew blacks to wear every day.  Don't get me wrong-- I'm liking it a lot and learning a ton-- but this summer's definitely brought to you by the letter F, for fatigue.

That said, one of the things that's made this gig awesome is its collection of vintage garments, and I am way overdue for sharing more of them with you.  I'll be taking you all with me through a chronological tour of my theater's closet, so in we go with my finds from the 1910s-1920s!

Please forgive the slightly hurried air of my photos this time around-- I scraped together a few minutes to snap away in one of the theater's dressing rooms.  I promise, had I found more time, I wouldn't make you look at picture after picture of a paper towel dispenser. Ugh.

This cream-colored dress dates from the 1910s.  I love the drop waist and long length, and man, for a 100-year-old dame, she looks good.  It's in terrific condition, thanks to the cool temperature and sunlight-free storage area.  The lace details on the bodice and sleeve add elegance, and I can tell you, after a month solid of jeans and t-shirts, it felt awesome to wear something so beautiful.

(Keep 'em coming by clicking "read more" below!)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Greenwich Thrillage

One of the last photo shoots I got to do while in New York was at La Lanterna Caffe, a gorgeous Italian restaurant located at 129 MacDougal Street, the same spot as one of the most well-known lesbian bars of the 1920s: Eve's Hangout.

Check out the shoot after the jump--

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Working Wardrobe: A Marthe Callot Evening Cape

Well it's been all quiet on the blogging front since my last post--it's been nearly two weeks, and that's nearly two weeks too long.  I've got some exciting stuff to talk about, so let's catch up!

Last week, I went to the wedding of a friend of ours in Baton Rouge.  I'd love to say I got a good shoot in, but the weather wasn't particularly cooperative-- it rained off and on throughout our visit, and when it wasn't raining, it was really humid.  I grew up in Texas, so I can hang with humidity, but seriously, it was so humid the crease fell out of my skirt.  I did, though, get one photo while Kate and I walked around the day after the wedding.  I'm wearing a circle skirt I made from a pattern of the Amalfi coast, which is as random as it is colorful.

The day after we left Baton Rouge, we settled into our home for the summer: a wonderful summer theater in the woods of Pennsylvania.  Kate's been working here for over a decade of summers, and this is the first year I'll be joining the staff, working wardrobe.  It's a really exciting opportunity-- I'll be able to sharpen my sewing skills, learn a ton about what goes on from the other side of the proscenium arch, and hopefully laying some groundwork for the future.

Now, I'm super jazzed for what this means for my blog.  Access to what's essentially a vault of vintage clothing? Um, sign me up.  But it's going to be a definite, temporary shift away from the more outfit-oriented posts I like to create.  Between the (really) long hours I'll be pulling and the move back to Mondays-only off days, I won't have much time to shoot outfits.  And with the realities of working wardrobe in a forest, I'll be wearing less than Outfit of the Day-worthy getups.  

But don't jump ship yet!  This job means I'll be encountering gorgeous garments to which I'd never, ever have access otherwise, and I'll be photographing and sharing them with you right here.  My hair won't be done, I'll be sans makeup, and I'll be wearing pretty unremarkable clothes-- but I bet you won't even notice, and to prove my point--this is my first Find of the Week.

Photos after the jump!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

An Almost-Perfect 1950s Spring Suit + Summer Plans!

It's spring!  Finally!  The weather's great, I can put away my tired winter coat, and my sandals are rar-in' to go.  I took the opportunity the great weather afforded and shot this 1950s suit Kate gave me for Christmas.  I'd had my eye on it for a while on Etsy, so I was really excited when she told me what she'd be giving me.  When it arrived, though, the fit was a little wonky, so I had to put it aside until I could get it tailored.  Four months later, it's altered and ready to wear in time for what promises to be an all-too-brief spring.

More after the jump!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Have a Vintage Drink: The Mint Julep

Just in time for the Kentucky Derby, a vintage ad for Four Roses Bourbon!  This ad, from the July 1944 issue of Cosmo I shared last week, includes a simple recipe for a classic summer bourbon drink: a mint julep.

Four Roses is a really terrific bourbon that's been around for over 125 years.  What's cool about this ad, though, is that Four Roses Straight Bourbon stopped being offered in the U.S. not long after it ran in this magazine.  In 1943, Seagrams had purchased the brand, and despite its popularity, the company pulled its straight bourbon from the U.S. from the 1950s to the early 2000s, shifting their marketing efforts to Europe and Asia.  During those years, the brand's reputation sank, and it languished as a rail whiskey.  Thankfully, in 2002 the Kirin Brewery Company bought Four Roses, and made an honest whiskey of it.

Check out the recipe after the jump!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Pyrrhic "Sew for Victory" Victory

After the success of my Sew for Victory blouse, I thought I'd go for broke and try a dress from this 1940s pattern. It's a fairly simple pattern, and I thought it'd go well with this yellow flower print I'd picked out. I really dug the diagonal darting on the sides of the bust, as well as the classic 40s cut of the skirt.

I went the whole nine yards with this thing: vintage metal zipper, vintage self-fabric belt, all of it, and I sewed happily along riiiight up until I started tailoring. As sewn, the waist was a little long, and the shoulders didn't sit quite right, coming off the form a little rather than lying flush against it.  Having done a not inconsequential amount of fitting/tailoring, I thought these would be pretty easy fixes, but man, I was wrong. The waistline debacle was my own fault--I raised it too much, then didn't realize it until I'd put in the zipper--but the shoulders were a nightmare. The instructions for the shoulder pads were, at least to me, indecipherable, so after trying a couple alternatives, I simply sewed a thin crinoline version rather than the stuffed shoulder pads the pattern calls for. 

The tough part here is that the pattern called for four end sections. I used the drawing in this direction to shape the pads, but they were still too oddly-shaped.
This is what I came up with originally, and it was close, but no cigar.
The pattern pieces created shoulder pads bigger than my palms.

The sleeve shape may have had something to do with the difficulty of fitting in the pads: because the sleeves are raglan cap style, they already broaden the look of the shoulders. Adding that much padding brings the line out even further, and because they cut straight out to the sides, adding height just pushes up the neckline, unless the wearer's shoulders slope downwards.  Aka this looked like a football uniform complete with sunken-in neck.

When all's said and done, I'm fairly happy with how this dress turned out, but boy, did I not want to look at it for a solid week after finishing.  This summer I'll be working on my sewing skills, so I hope to revisit it and fix the fit issues I still have here--it still doesn't sit flush against the shoulder/neck, and it rides up a little at the waist.

So, this one was more a pyrrhic "Sew for Victory" victory, but hey, it's my first dress, so I'll take it.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Nylon in Newport

Last weekend, Kate and I took a trip out to Newport, Rhode Island to get a little sun and sea.  Spring's been a little late in coming, so it felt really great to sip drinks by the ocean and catch some rays. Mmm. Bloody Marias.  

It was also Kate's first go as official photographer, and I think she did a great job! A beautiful background never hurt anyone, right?

Since the weather decided to be nice, it was the perfect opportunity to wear my nylon dress for the first time.  The peachy, sheer color made me feel terrific, even if I was slightly nervous about snagging it on a pier.  Though the original belt's missing, the slip did come along with it, and thankfully it was thick enough to provide just a little warmth against the sea breezes. 

Now, I grew up in Texas, where beaches are warm and sandy. The New England coast is gorgeous, but I'm always surprised by the rocky terrain and the cooler temperature.

But what the East Coast lacks in warmth it definitely makes up for in color-- the beach I went to as a kid was all brown. Brown sand, brown opaque water, brown.  I didn't even know you were supposed to be able to see through ocean water until we went to Florida when I was maybe 12.

So I'll take the rocks if it means beautiful blue water--particularly if the rocks are such a stellar black!

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Peek Inside the July 1944 Issue of Cosmopolitan

One of the best ways to learn about history, and style's place within it, is through vintage magazines.  I only have a couple in my collection so far, so when I found the following magazine in the same Etsy shop where I found self-fabric belt buckles for my Sew for Victory dress, I thought, "Well, isn't that convenient?"

It's the July 1944 issue of Cosmopolitan!  Now, if you pick up a pre-1950s copy of Cosmo looking for the sex columns and limited concept of beauty in today's issues, you'll probably be disappointed--Cosmopolitan, or Heart's International Combined with Cosmopolitan, as it was called from the mid-20s to the 50s, was originally a literary magazine.  Publishing short stories, novel excerpts, serials, and nonfiction, Cosmopolitan's roots explain its sophisticated title. Starting in the 1950s, the magazine published less fiction, and gradually became the sex-oriented Cosmo we know and have mixed feelings about today.

One of the biggest factors that attracted me to this particular issue is its cover, which features a U.S. War Savings Bond.

The Series E bonds, essentially small loans to the government that accrued interest, helped finance the war, and in this wartime issue, they're plugged on nearly every single page. Even advertisements include small text supporting the sale of bonds--an ad for Roma Wine says, "BUT-- BEFORE YOU BUY WINES, BUY WAR BONDS AND STAMPS."

The war is, of course, a constant theme throughout the writings and ads in this issue.  Much has been said about the drastic cultural difference between World War II and today--how during World War II, the war was a daily concern of the whole nation, while today it's a burden carried by just 10% of its citizens.  This issue, published 14 months before the war's end, tells this story throughout.


"DON'T WASTE SOAP! Soap uses vital materials needed to win the war!"
1944 style... she stays
sweeter with NEET"

"DON'T WASTE SOAP: It's patriotic to help save soap.  Use only what you need. Don't let your cake of Lux Toilet Soap stand in water. After using, place it in a dry soap dish. Moisten last sliver and press against new cake."
Sometimes the war theme takes an unexpected turn:

Say what?
Sometimes it's a tribute, plain and simple:

"Every American is pledged to do his or her part toward the attainment of victory and peace. Those in the service are doing more than their share. We salute the men and women of our armed forces. Let those of us who have supporting roles to play so conduct ourselves that on their return they will be as proud of us as we are of them.

And because you can't have a World War II mag without some pinups:


HIT BUNK 0230, HEAVEN 0231
I wonder what story today's magazine ads will tell in 70 years?

Thanks to Etsy seller The Cherry Chic!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Rebel Without A Cause

When I found this faux leather jacket, I knew I wanted to do a shoot inspired by James Dean's look in Rebel Without A Cause (1955).  When I saw the gorgeous architecture of the Providence Public Library, I knew I'd found my location.  What better place to rebel than an institution for learning, right?

Since Dean's look is rough-and-tumble less-is-more, I went really basic here, pulling the color from Dean's jacket for the skirt. Only the blouse is vintage, but I think it really goes to show you don't need head-to-toe vintage clothing to put together an era-specific outfit.

By and large, I prefer to take my own photos, using a tripod. With few exceptions, I feel a lot less self-conscious doing self-portraits than with a friend taking my picture. Honestly, I get a little Ricky Bobby about it--suddenly I have no idea what to do with my hands.  What do I do with my hands?!

It's definitely not the most time-effective way to do shoots, but it works for me--or at least it did before coming to Providence.  I don't know if I was just spoiled by how hard it is to impress New Yorkers ("Lady taking her own photograph? Whatever."), but I've been really shocked at how people in Providence seem to handle photo shoots.  I've been hollered at every time I've gone out. While I was snapping photos of my Sew for Victory blouse, a stranger stopped in his tracks to watch me until I met his eye; during the tuxedo pants shoot, people shouted at me (dare I say heckled?); during this shoot, someone walked all the way up the steps to see what I was doing, and then spent the next 20 minutes staring at me while I worked.  I will say, it definitely helped with the rebellious, don't-mess-with-me mood I was trying to evoke, but man it felt weird. 

Sideways glances and brief stares are totally normal--I'm used to getting double-takes when I'm out and about--but we're talking lingering to the point of loitering.  I'm sure nobody meant active harm, but I wish people were a little aware of how it feels, as a woman by herself, to be confronted and stared at.  Honestly it might not be such a big deal, had anyone's tone been just kind or curious, rather than demanding and vaguely hostile.  The solution might lie in just not taking photos in the city center anymore, but it's sort of a bummer.  Getting a comment now and then, or a few brief stares, sort of comes with the territory of dressing out of the mainstream fashion, and I get that.  But I'm not sure feeling uneasy is part of the deal.